Peter Sheppard

Think back to when you first fell in love. How much attention did you to your new partner? You treated them with great care and gave them all your attention and tried to please them continuously. In many cases, as the relationship matured, those efforts faded and there was an acceptance of ‘that’s the way it is’. Sadly, too often that relationship deteriorates due to the lack of working at it.

Much the same happens with an established business. We do not do everything we can to continue the love and work on it that we had for the business when we first launched the concept or opened our first store.

Ask yourself, what have you done in the last 12  months to enhance your business? What is it that you are doing better than you were last year, or to open a gap against your competitors? What is the discernible difference that customers notice about your store compared to the other options available to them?  Why should they shop you?

What are you doing to INVENT YOUR FUTURE?

There are many aspects of a retail business that need consideration. Here are some of the more important ones that apply to most retail businesses.

Rate each discipline in your business out of 5. I.e. Average is 3 out of 5

  1. How do you match up on price and value?
  2. How convenient and accessible are you to your chosen customer segments?
  3. How easy is it to shop you, in-store or online?
  4. How good is your service, really?
  5. How good and appropriate is your range of merchandise or services?
  6. What is the memorable experience of a customer after shopping with you?
  7. How sharp and what Visual impact do your window and instore displays provide?

How many 3 or worse ratings do you have, how many 4s and how many 5 out of 5?

If you think of successful brands and businesses, generally you will assess them to be at least average (3/5) on 3 or 4 of the above, good (4/5) at least 2 of them and really very, very good at least one of them, sometimes two. (5/5)

You do the assessment of some of the iconic Australian brands that you are familiar with. Think about McDonalds, Lorna Jane, Boost Juice, Smiggle, Aldi or H & M, to name a few. When you think about those brands, their market positioning and strengths become obvious.

Why do you have a favourite coffee shop? Why do you walk past numerous others to go to ‘my’ coffee shop? What draws you there. Is it only the coffee, or the service, or the ambiance or the value?

Inviting and strong colour usage to make an impact and draw attention.

Then think about some strugglers and see the difference?  What about Myer, or Target, or Jeanswest, or Harris Scarfe. What  are their points of difference and what they do really well? It all becomes a bit obvious that they are generally average or worse on most of the above disciplines.

Now think about your business. What does it do very, very well? If you are a specialty business, what is your speciality? What do you better than your competitors? What can you do to make the customer think:  “Wow, they do that better than any other comparable business”? Is your service outstanding, I mean outstanding? Are you absolutely passionate about any single aspect of your business? In mean, do you think about how to do it better, every day, and work on it continuously?

Decide what are your key brand values. What do you want your business to be known for and work on it passionately and tirelessly?

If you do work hard, really hard at it, you will find a way to do it better and develop a ‘connection’ and loyalty with your customers. You cannot be the same as you were yesterday, as if you are not improving continually you will be a struggler, particularly in the new ‘norm’.

You may have survived being ‘average or par’ in how you delivered your brand to the world in the past, but that will not get you through in the new world post-Covid -19.

You need to love your business, chose a discipline that you can deliver better than anybody else, work on it every day, treat your customers as if they were your new potential lifelong partner.

Oh, and remember, don’t expect your staff to do as they are told, they will be more likely to mimic you and do as you do!

Peter Sheppard is the Head of Implementation at Retail Doctor Group. Email him at
to find out more.

Have a look at previous articles written by the experts Retail Doctor Group:

  1. The Post COVID World – why physical shopping rules
  2. How to predict your customer’s needs post Covid-19?
  3. Australian consumer sentiment during COVID-19 and its implications for retailers and brands